“Moses, you are walking on holy ground.” So says Yahweh from the burning bush. At an early age, I found myself drawn to that notion. Holy ground or as others might say, Sacred Place.
For many years I assumed that sacred places were found only in places of worship. Thankfully I began to encounter the notion of Sacred Place outside of churches. Many Native American traditions, for example, include a powerful sense of Sacred Place. I came to understand that Scared Place was both the setting for and opportunity for profound spiritual experience.
When I consider some of the most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve had, the majority of them did not occur in a church. One occurred at a death-bed, another by the Pacific Ocean in Marina Del Rey. Yes, I’ve encountered God in churches but I’ve also encountered Him/Her in the depths of Lincoln National Forest or in the presence of Salvador Dali’s “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” in the National Museum of Art.
Sacred Places are places of comfort, places where I can go when feeling exhausted or broken and find sustenance and renewal.
A Sacred Place can be a place of empowerment, a place where I acquire new strength, uncover unknown gifts, find direction.
Sacred Place is a place of healing of body, mind, and spirit. It may be a place where I must first face wounds and failings but all in the name of healing. For me, the rooms of 12 Step meetings were and are sacred.
And indeed in Sacred Places we may encounter the Numinous, that level of spiritual reality for which there are no words.
Organized religion has not cornered the market on Sacred Places. As Lawrence Kushner has written: “Culture and organized religion conspire to trick us into believing that entrances to holiness are only at predicted times and prearranged places.” (Honey from the Rock, p.56)
Quoting scripture, Lawrence Kushner titled another of his books God Was in This Place and I, i Did Not Know It. Sacred Place is available to us both in nature and in the inner city. We just need to pay attention.
Reflection: What have been some of your Sacred Places?